Tess Mc Manus’ one-woman show is an anecdotal look at life in Letterkenny County, Donegal (Ireland) through the eyes of a young woman who has been entered in the county’s annual Donkey Derby.
Tess McManus tells you why you should see it:
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Mary, played by the delightful and charming Tess Mc Manus, is a young woman entered into a Donkey Derby in Letterkenny co. Donegal, Ireland by her parents and brothers as a way to break her of her social anxiety disorder. The play takes place entirely in a barn where Mary starts by “breaking up” with her donkey, Percy, represented by audience-proxy, and tell him she’s not going to take part in the Derby. Then, unwilling to face the crowds outside, Mary decides to hang out with Percy and tells him stories from her life.
Tess Mc Manus is endearing and captivating in this semi-autobiographical one-woman show that she also wrote (she grew up in Letterkenny until she was nine) and is a joy to watch from beginning to end. Her comfort and presence on stage don’t at all betray her young age or that this is her first one-person, self-authored show. Plus, Irish accent.
The individual stories she tells throughout the play, as well as her conversations with Percy the Donkey are well composed and interesting but if there’s one thing that could have made this fun show even stronger, it would be a tighter over all character arc. As is, it feels like the jump between Mary’s state at the beginning and the end is a bit abrupt and might better have benefited from a building transition.
Photo provided by Little Green Hat via the Ottawa Fringe Festival.